Just a month after the first Android 12L beta, Beta 2 has arrived and it brings with it some fairly minor but by no means insignificant new changes for our favorite mobile OS.

For anyone wanting to risk the stability of their smartphone, then the Android 12L Beta phase sure is a way to do so. However, we simply do not recommend that you sideload or enrol this particular beta unless you are happy to deal with issues, UI bugs and unexpected problems. Unlike the Android 12 Beta phase, 12L is set to be more incremental and lacking in “major” overhauls.

Another thing to note is that if you have the Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, your flagship Made by Google device is not yet eligible for the second Android 12L beta at this point in time. We’re not sure if this is a result of the problematic rollout of the December 2021 patch and subsequent late-January OTA coming soon.

It does mean that you might eventually get the opportunity to test drive on your Pixel 6 series smartphone as the official timeline suggests that we’ll see one more beta before Android 12L arrives in a stable form at some stage in Q1 2022. For everyone with a Pixel 3a and newer, you can trial run Android 12L Beta 2 right now and here are some of the top new additions:

Video — Android 12L Beta 2 hands-on

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New split-screen experience with updated App Pairs

The split-screen experience within Android has been on the receiving end of some tweaks with this latest preview build. When launching into the Recents app menu and initiating split-screen mode via an app icon long press, you’ll immediately notice that the mini menu uses “Split top” rather than “Split screen” seen in Android 12. It’s minor but we’re hoping that this doesn’t cause too much confusion.

Tapping this toggle will allow you to snap another app into the dual view mode. Sadly, Google has decided the change the look here somewhat. Instead of clean, angular UI corners, you’ll instantly spot corners and a more rounded overall aesthetic. This is going to be a divisive change and although it’s more cohesive with the rest of the “bubbly” UI elements in Android 12, it’s quite distracting.

That’s not the only change in Android 12L Beta 2 that affects the split-screen mode. When viewing videos via the picture-in-picture mode, should you have another application open full screen, tapping the mini video player gives you a new toggle to quickly launch into split-screen mode. The upper dual-app icon sits alongside the “Settings” toggle and will open compatible players alongside another app in portrait or landscape orientation.

More UI element changes

Because of the mid-cycle refresh nature of Android 12L, there are a number of slight updates or upgrades to UI elements. A prominent example is the wider usage of button outlines or M3 buttons now being shown when camera or microphone access warnings appear on screen.

This makes it easier to note the options offered for these important privacy toggles. When you have already blocked access to the camera and/or microphone and launch an app such as the default camera, then the new pop-up has a larger filled-in button to denote or indicate you can “Unblock” access to and use all app features. One would imagine this is targeted towards the non-tech-savvy or low tech-literate user.

Another new feature here is a new toggle that will allow you to quickly disable or turn off Airplane mode when attempting to activate on device Wi-Fi. When you’re in Airplane mode tapping the Wi-Fi or Internet toggle will offer up a button to just exit quickly but you can still keep other connections deactivated and enable Wi-Fi if you wish.

At a Glance restores quick Calendar access

Frustratingly the Android 12 update removed the ability to tap the time/date portion of the At a Glance widget to direct launch into the Google Calendar app. Thankfully, this has been restored with Android 12L Beta 2. Tapping the date will just launch the Google Calendar app while you can still open Google Weather by hitting the weather icon. Although technically just restoration of an old feature, it’s still an important addition here that fans will be happy about.

Disable double-line lock screen clock

Another change that goes some way to appeasing fans annoyed by the lack of granular customization within Android 12 will be the ability to disable the double line lock screen clock. Within the Settings app, you’re able to adjust the lock screen so that the time is only shown in the upper left. To do so head to Settings > Display > Lock screen > Double-line clock

The result is a more familiar look and also has the benefit of removing a large lock screen widget that might obscure your wallpaper without affecting the wider Material You themeing on your device.

Animation changes and improvements

In Beta 1 we saw some improved animations across the entirety of Android 12L. In Beta 2 a few things have been adjusted including a slick new animation when accessing or opening the Power menu from the Quick Settings toggle.

Rather than sliding in from right to left, the Power menu expands outwardly from the toggle and shrinks back if you dismiss the pop-up floating widgets. On high refresh rate displays its this kind of attention to detail that enhances overall device fluidity.

Another minor change is in how the lock screen reacts to activation. UI elements such as the At a Glance widget has more subtle movements rather than jumping into animations. You might not even notice but the animation feels cleaner and less jumpy.

What is your favorite new addition from the Android 12L Beta 2?

Because we know the Android 12L release will be a retune of Android 12 to accommodate more form factors, it’s not a big, bold update that you might expect. Google has added some nice quality of life additions more so than outright overhauls. Do you have a favorite new tweak, change or function in Android 12L Beta 2? Or are you simply hoping to see more as the preview phases progress? Let us know down in the comments section below.

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About the Author

Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com